spread oneself too thin

Twos (Enneagram of Personality)

Twos, in Enneagram of Personality teaching, are people of the psychological type represented by point two on the Enneagram figure.

Twos are also sometimes referred to by terms that express their more distinctive archetypal characteristics. Examples of such names for Twos are helper, giver and caretaker.

General characteristics

When Twos are at their healthiest they are the most naturally helpful of all the types. They are the parent that everyone wishes they had: someone who accepts them, is compassionate, is encouraging and helpful.

When they are less healthy, they like to see themselves as being helpful, but really, they have a shadow side of pride and manipulation. They feel that they are worthless and must give to others in order to get the love that they crave. Putting others first makes average Twos feel angry and resentful, and these feelings erupt in various ways that hurt their relationships.

Childhood issues

In childhood Twos may come to believe that:

1) The needs of others come before their own.
2) In order to get they must give.
3) They must earn love.
4) Acknowledging their own needs is selfish.

Twos learn to get love by being nurturing and giving attention to everyone else. To do this, Twos must repress their own feelings. Twos subconsciously try to fix in others what they need to fix in themselves.


Twos with a dominant One wing

Such Twos could also be called "Good Samaritans" as they are willing to do thankless tasks that others avoid. They often work as teachers; in healing professions; pastoral ministry or with the poor, handicapped or mentally challenged.

In more average psychological states they may struggle with their "selfish" feelings. They can be dutiful, 'proper' and perfectionistic. They may become emotionally restrained and dislike drawing attention to themselves whilst still wanting to feel important in other people's lives.

They can become very hard on themselves and neglect their health by denying their personal needs and trying to be a martyr.

Twos with a dominant Three wing

Such Twos are more extraverted. They want a personal connection with others and enjoy making others feel good. They love to share their talents with family and loved ones.

Whilst friendly their Three wing makes them ambitious. They are often seductive as the result of a combination between the desire for love and the Three desire for acceptance. These people are less self-critical than Twos with a dominant One wing. When unhealthy are often conceited and overbearing.

Instinctual subtypes


Average Self-preservation Twos tend to ignore their instincts to take care of themselves and burn themselves out taking care of others. They subconsciously expect others to take care of their needs, but seldom ask for help directly. Helpers often feel like martyrs. They feel that they are entitled for support because of their services. They expect special privileges for their sacrifices, and they may overeat or overmedicate. They manipulate others to get their needs met.

Unhealthy: Food obsessions, hypochondria, and somatic disorders are common. Suppression of feelings can cause real health problems.


Average Social Twos want to be liked and approved of by everyone they know. They have a busy social calendar and hate to be overlooked. They try to be friends with the people who they see as successful. They try to impress people by disposing advice and namedropping. They cause frustration for people who care about them because they spread themselves too thin among a wide range of people while not paying much attention to anyone in particular. They may chase after anyone who gives a little approval.

Unhealthy Social Twos are patronizing and classic enablers.


Average Sexual Twos want to be one person's best friend, as opposed to the Social Twos, who wants to be everyone's friend. They seduce by giving their significant others lots of attention; this can include sexual activity. They become increasingly pushy and demanding, and feel that they simply cannot get close enough to their partner. They try to keep their friends apart, so they do not discover one another and keep the Helper out of the relationship.

Unhealthy Sexual Twos become very jealous and will keep their significant others within contact range. They may stalk the one they're obsessed with and prey upon those who don't refuse them.

Principal psychological issues

  • Pride, flattery, self-satisfaction
  • Looking for terms of endearment
  • Intimacy and loss of boundaries
  • Disguised neediness
  • Becoming a rescuer and collecting needy people
  • Possessiveness and control
  • Health and "suffering"

Riso and Hudson's psychological levels

According to the theories of Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, each person's personality has nine psychological levels - three healthy levels, three average levels and three unhealthy levels. They call these the 'levels of development'.

The nine levels for Twos, according to Riso and Hudson, can be summarized as follows:

Level 1 Let go of the belief that they should not care for themselves, and they are free to love others without expectations. They achieve their basic desire (to be loved) and experience unconditional love for self and others.
Level 2 Focus on feelings of others with loving concern as a defense against their basic fear.
Level 3 Appreciate, encourage and support others. Enjoy sharing their talents with others.
Level 4 Start fearing that what they do is not enough, so they want to be assured that others like them. They start pleasing, flattering, and supporting others.
Level 5 Start becoming proud, yet needy, and to not want others out of their sight.
Level 6 Feel frustrated that others take them for granted, but cannot express their hurt. Instead, they focus on their health and remind others about how much they are dependent on them. Physical problems are caused by repressed feelings.
Level 7 Fear they may be driving people away, so they rationalize their behavior by viewing others as selfish. They try to make other people dependent on them so they won't leave.
Level 8 Begin to pursue love obsessively. They feel that others owe them because they have suffered so much, and they start acting out inappropriately.
Level 9 Fall to pieces physically and emotionally, and others have to step in to take care of them.


Ego Fixation: Flattery
Holy Idea: Freedom
Basic Fear: Of being unworthy of being loved.
Basic Desire: To be loved unconditionally.
Temptation: To manipulate others in order to get positive responses
Vice: Pride (specifically, Vainglory, the love of one's own goodness)
Virtue: Altruism

Notable Twos

zh: 第二型人格

Search another word or see spread oneself too thinon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature